Jeff Han

Jeff Han is a former 2006 TED Speaker and the founder of Perceptive Pixel, the developer of the most advanced multi-touch solutions in the world. Perceptive Pixel was recently announced as the winner of the National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt, the National Design Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

“Working all but alone from his hardware-strewn office, Jeff Han is about to change the face of computing. Not even the big boys are likely to catch him.” – Fast Company

According to Wired Magazine a year after he debuted at TED, Jeff was:

“a New York University computer scientist minding his own business when inspiration suddenly struck. Looking at a water glass one day, he was intrigued by the way his fingers interacted with the glass and he hit on an idea to take touchscreen technology to a new level.  Word of his multi-touch interface reached last year’s TED conference curator, Chris Anderson, who invited him to give a brief demo, sandwiched between other lengthier talks. Han was the surprise hit of the show and became a geek rock star overnight.”

Fast Company further detailed his curiosity and technology instincts as a kid:

The son of middle-class Korean immigrants who emigrated to America in the 1970s to take over a Jewish deli in Queens, Han began taking apart the family TV, VCR, “anything that was blinking,” at the age of 5 (he still has a nasty scar courtesy of a hot soldering iron his little sister knocked onto his foot). His father wasn’t always happy about the houseful of half-reassembled appliances, but encouraged his son’s technolust nevertheless, and even made him memorize his multiplication tables before he enrolled in kindergarten. At summer camp, Jeff hot-wired golf carts for nocturnal joy rides and fixed fellow campers’ busted Walkmen in exchange for soda pop. He studied violin “like any good Asian kid.” He was 12 when he built his first laser.

Jeff was named to Time Magazine‘s 2008 “100 Most Influential People in The World” List, the annual list of the world’s most influential people (leaders, thinkers, heroes, artists, scientists and more).  They wrote:

By Jeff Han’s description, he was “one of those troublemaker kids.” Five years ahead in math learning levels. A soldering iron in hand at age 6. Taking things apart to see how they worked. Even putting some of them back together.

Han, 32, was an obscure New York University computer-science researcher two years ago when he made a presentation introducing the concept of multi-touch sensing screens [at TED]. Now his work is coveted by clients ranging from the CIA to CNN, all of which realize that the era of the single-touch screen (think ATMs) is over and the multi-touch screen (imagine a piano keyboard on a screen) is upon us.

“Multi-touch-sensing was designed to allow nontechies to do masterful things while allowing power users to be even more virtuosic,” Han says. Count me in the nontechie column. Count me too as someone who believes Han has done more than start a great business; he has also dramatically changed the way we interact with our computers.

Jeff’s company, Perceptive Pixel, focuses on multi-touch, deriving from the disparity between the vast power of modern computers and the aging interfaces people use to operate them. Though the mouse and keyboard are more than forty years old, they continue to dominate graphic computing, to the detriment of productivity and an entire new generation of users coming online.  Perceptive Pixel develops interfaces that seek to become invisible, bringing people closer to their content and removing their barriers to collaboration.

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